Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Dinosaurs and the Restored Gospel

As a Stake President I appreciate the hundreds of letters, emails and phone calls I receive each week to express appreciation for my blog.  I apologize for not being able to respond to each and every one of them.  Today I received the following email from 15 year old Josée who is from Ontario County Canada and I thought I would respond.

Dear President Paternoster,

While visiting Canada’s Wonderland last week I noticed that dinosaurs lived and died millions of years ago (I have included 2 photos).  My seminary teacher who was with us said that this was not possible as that would mean that the atonement of Jesus Christ would have been completely unnecessary.  I asked my Dad what was meant by this comment but he said I should ask you as you tend to explain things better.

If it’s not too much trouble could you elaborate?

Josée age 15

Dear Josée,

Thank you for your letter.  Please thank your father and let him know that I am both humbled and honoured at the confidence he has placed in me.  This is a fascinating topic and as someone who is well versed in paleontology and the restored gospel I am well positioned to provide a response.  

Before responding to your question I wish to warn you that hundreds of different theories exist in the world and in your life you will meet many (including Church members) who, while meaning well, will unfortunately fall into the trap of mingling the truth of the scriptures with the philosophies of men.  They do this to make the gospel 'seem' more logical.  This you must not do.  

In order to avoid confusion whenever a question such as this comes up I encourage members to prayerfully look to the scriptures and the official website of the Church ( for answers.  I promise you Josée that the answers are there for those who seek them.  

While the scriptures don’t specifically mention dinosaurs let us do some research on the origin of death.  From the Church website at this link we learn that “Two kinds of death are spoken of in the scriptures. One is the death of the body, which is caused by the separation of the body from the spirit.  The other is spiritual death, which is to die as pertaining to, or to be separated from, righteousness.”  Now the absolutely essential thing to note Josée is that “Both of these deaths were introduced into the world by the fall of Adam.”

To further clarify this we read from the same link that “Latter-day revelation (and let’s keep in mind that this is actual revelation – meaning God has revealed this to his prophets, so it’s not just an opinion) teaches that there was no death on this earth for any forms of life before the fall of Adam. Indeed, death entered the world as a direct result of the fall.”   This is backed up by holy scripture (2 Ne. 2:22; Moses 6:48).

The current institute manual that is used to teach 18-30 year olds confirms this teaching where it states that “There was no death in the earth before the fall of Adam  ...The gospel teaches us that if Adam and Eve had not partaken of that fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, they would have remained in the Garden of Eden in that same condition prevailing before the fall. . . .

Based on this solid evidence we know of a surety that no death occurred on the earth before the fall. The next question we need to answer then is when did this fall occur?  Again let’s prayerfully go to the official Church site to seek answers to our questions.  At we can download the timeline of the people and events from the Old Testament pictured below.  While the dates are approximate we can see from this timeline that the fall took place at around the year 4030 B.C.  (Adam died approximately in the year 3100 at the age of 930).
So here we have a dilemma.  On one hand we have the restored gospel saying that no death occurred for any forms of life before the fall of Adam (some 6,000 years ago) and on the other hand we have the scientists claiming that dinosaurs were living and dying 231 million of years ago (as per the photo you provided)!  Whom should we believe?  Should we accept the Holy Scriptures and the interpretation given by modern day prophets on our official website or should we change our interpretation in an attempt to follow the ever changing theories of scientists? 

Josée you asked what your seminary teacher meant when he said that dinosaurs could not have lived and died millions of years ago “as that would mean that the atonement of Jesus Christ would have been completely unnecessary”.  This question has been answered and is available on the Brigham Young University website in a talk that they still feature given by Bruce R. Mckonkie who was a prophet, seer and revelator.   He said “My reasoning causes me to conclude that if death has always prevailed in the world, then there was no fall of Adam that brought death to all forms of life; that if Adam did not fall, there is no need for an atonement; that if there was no atonement, there is no salvation, no resurrection, and no eternal life; and that if there was no atonement, there is nothing in all of the glorious promises that the Lord has given us.”  
Did you understand this Josée?  Basically what the Apostle is saying here is if dinosaurs died millions of years ago (before the fall) then there was no fall (because the purpose of the fall was to introduce death into the world) and if there was no fall then there was no atonement to counter the effects of the fall.  And if that were the case then this whole gospel of Jesus Christ would be untrue.  This would mean that Church leaders such as myself and President Monson would be, much like the billions of followers of other religions in the world, wasting our lives away in a false religion in a vain and foolish attempt at gaining an eternal award which doesn't exist. And of course Josée, this cannot be.  

My personal opinion, which is the more likely explanation, is that some of the Lord's creations (such as the Tyrannosauras Rex) due to their size and displeasing demeanour were turned away by the prophet Noah at the ark and shortly thereafter became extinct.


President Paternoster


Anonymous said...

(Soooooo hard not to say FIRST! But I'm not going to do it.)


This is NOT a website sanctioned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Nor is "President Paternoster" a stake president within the Church. Rather, the content of this site varies from farce to pointed criticism [which is, at times, painfully accurate].

Many, but not necessarily all, of the posts are written in mockery of those who are sincerely striving, albeit imperfectly, to follow Jesus.

Caveat utilitor.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps your best blog entry to date.

amy said...

Wow. Anonymous Gideon must have A LOT of time on his hands and follow your blog closely! I mean...I love the blog too! Obviously not as much as you do AG! You must have quite the amount of cog dis....kinda sad, really.

Goldarn said...

I worry about the statement by Bruce R. Mckonkie, for in it, he mentions relying upon his "reasoning" to reach his conclusions, rather than the much simpler and plainer method of receiving a revelation.

Perhaps he simply misspoke, and meant to say "God's reasoning." I have heard him speak many times, and I can easily believe that he could mistake God's reasons as his own, since he was so close to God.

Anonymous said...

Anonymous Gideon is just joking.

Don't take his comments seriously. That's the problem with religious satire. It is often too indistinguishable from sincere belief. It become very confusing.

Anonymous said...

I am proudly an ironic member of this community.

Of course, if you subscribe to the notion of "castigat ridendo mores" then Mr. Paternoster remains the more ironic, and his service to the Church is of more value than is mine.


Anonymous said...

Dear President,

Bless your heart. You are better than I when responding to the younger generations in regards to anything of the devil, like science. I commend you on your ability to not get frustrated with such trivial questions these kids come up with. I think it's their social media and the things out of our control that causes them to start thinking for themselves. I'm glad you were able to make it all make sense.

Sister Sanctimonious

Almost Exalted said...

Dear Beloved President Paternoster,
It is with the most sincere and grateful of hearts that I acknowledge the mighty spirit of God coursing through every fiber of your being. Rarely have I experienced the spirit so strongly as when I read your words which seemed to drop from the lips of Christ himself!

I so appreciate your reasoning about how the dinosaur skeletons came to be: their obstinate behavior provoked Noah to leave them behind when he embarked on the ark. In one fell swoop you have stymied all the supposed learning of men and shown how simple is the word of God.

It fits perfectly: all the left behind dinosaurs became embedded in mud washed down by the 40 days and nights of rain. The mud dried out in one of the many prior episodes of global warming (one more thing all the scientists are so wrong about!) and voila, there's where the dinosaurs came from!

Of course it doesn't explain why the strata shows thousands of feet of buried life forms starting with very simple ones then gradually getting more complex the higher one goes. Obviously God hated bacteria more and drowned them first, then the ferns, then the other plants, then fish(not sure how he drowned them), then land animals - but who are we to question the motives of God?

On last thing: would you kindly place the name of Anonymous Gideon on the temple prayer rolls? This poor deluded soul obviously suffers from an advanced case of satanic Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). This pathetic individual seems devoid of hobbies or any other existence on this earth apart from attacking an anointed servant of God, and wanting to be the first to do so! How tragic the hold of Satan on the hearts of men. We must all pray for him that his affliction may be lifted and he comes to beg forgiveness at your hand.

Anonymous said...

President, I really love this evocative post, which reminds us of the paradise that existed before the Fall. I picture herds of peaceful, sustainably vegetarian Tyrannosaurus rex presided over by Adam and Eve as they carefully grazed, taking care to take no more from any one plant than it could spare, lest they cause its death before the appointed time. What a bitter disappointment, among many others, it must have been for our newly fallen First Parents to see them develop the bad character that would later disqualify them from obtaining ark recommends, and lead to their extinction in the Flood.

NeverMo said...

Ah, my dear Paternoster: While I've never been LDS, I can understand Josée's dilemma since I too was indoctrinated in a false religion (the public school system in the states) and taught the state religion: that man evolved out of nothing (implies no God); we are just animals (although man punishes you if you live by the law of the jungle); and that dinosaurs have been around for 231 million years. (Although they keep revising that number upward.)

But I'm also a scientist by vocation and avocation. Science, by definition, is the study of things observable, repeatable, verifiable. Since man's recorded history only goes back 6000 years or so, there were no scientists to observe dinosaurs 231 million years ago. So when I stopped thinking like a child, I realized it's not truly scientific to insist dinosaurs (or the earth) have been around for millions of years. Nor is it historical fact. No one really knows. At best it's forensic theory, based on an awful lot of assumptions, which themselves may not be valid. At worst, it's a guess and/or belief and/or religion, much like global warming some "scientists" (even our NASA) preach today.

You did not give advice to young Josée as to how to find the truth of the matter. So, if I may, my advice to him is to forget blind faith and go by facts, just like I hope he does when he studies the Mormon religion. If dinosaurs have really been around for 231 million years, and if Joseph Smith is really a prophet, there should be a lot of data proving that. (Although 231 million years is a really, REALLY long time. When you think about it, it's amazing that their remains haven't been completely assimilated by now despite being fossilized.) As he grows up, he should listen to both sides, new earthers and old, with an open mind and do what we do in science. He should see whose theory fits the data best and is logically consistent. And makes sense.

I'm glad you didn't tell him to simply pray about it or believe what you tell him. He should not start out by assuming there is or is not a god and trying to prove his belief. Let the facts speak for themselves. Even the Jesus of the Bible told the Jews to go by the evidence.

Cindy said...

Maybe it's in our nature, I'm not sure, but we tend to try to complicate and over analyse things. The leaders have said over and over again that the gospel is plain and simple and you have made that clear in this post. It's not important to our salvation where the dinosaurs came from or where they went but it is important to know where we came from and where we need to be going. Adam and Eve laid the path for us not the dinosaurs. The past is important yes but we can choose which past we will focus on or not.

Anonymous said...

Correct me if I'm wrong president but Josée is a french female name as opposed to José the spanish male name. Just noticed that everyone seemed to think it was a young man who wrote that letter to you not a young woman. Not that it really matters and as Cindy so blatently would try to point out.

NeverMo MIke said...

"Correct me if I'm wrong president but Josée is a french female name as opposed to José the spanish male name. Just noticed that everyone seemed to think it was a young man who wrote that letter to you not a young woman."

Yes, I made that mistake too. In my defense, not knowing French (we're woefully ignorant here in the States), and living in the desert SW near Mexico, I simply though the president, being from Ireland, was using a colourful variation of José, as the British often do.

Please forgive me. I repent in sackcloth and ashes. (BTW, it's sounding like Cindy really is a TBM.)

Anonymous said...

NeverMo Mike, I see no need for sackcloth and ashes. While knowledge of French is not proof of unrighteousness, it is certainly proof of exposure to unrighteousness: the wine, the sex, the existentialism, and the pridefulness of nasalized vowels. Certain of its speakers sink so low as to use solemn religious vocabulary and even our Lord's name as curse words, a practice unknown in less worldly languages like our own.

I am sure President Paternoster would never take offense at one who made a choice to preserve his innocence pure and undefiled.

Ex-Mormon Mavens said...

Thank you so much for your inspired words, President Paternoster. I have printed this out and will be distributing this to the local schools. I have also written a very nice letter and enclosed your intelligent words to the Natural History Museum's Curator and Director of the Dinosaur Institute. May the Lord humble him to see the error of his ways.

You are a bright and shining example for our Young Men.

Brynn Johnson said...

Fantastic President.

I have always wondered as I prepared lessons how I could explain in such a spiritual fashion the "problem" with the dinosaurs.
I felt the spirit testify that this had to be (dinosaurs being kept from entrance to the Ark) to provide the fossil fuel neccessary for the wars fought on foreign soil so we could then drive to church in an SUV big enough to hold all of the precious spirits sent from the pre-existence.

Heavenly Father had everything planned before we ever got here!
I now know that George W. Bush was a true President on this sacred land of America! If Romney takes office as has been prophesied, we will most certainly invade Iran and gather their oil as well to push forth the True Kingdom of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel is TRUE!

Mahonri Kimball said...

President P;

It used to be that I had a problem understanding how to reconcile the fact that there was no death before the fall, and the fact the there are plants and animals on this planet that died millions and billions of years ago.

After considerable pondering, studying, and prayer... with a real desire that I might find a way to still believe that the gospel is true... The Lord has revealed to me that the key lies in the fact that before the fall Adam and Eve were living near the planet Kolob in an entirely different part of the Universe.

Modern prophets have told us that at the time of the fall, Adam and Eve were taken from their place in the presence of God, (near Kolob) and relocated to our Solar System.

It makes perfect sense to me, that Adam and Eve were moved to this planet which had already been through millions of years of mortal existence. God must have destroyed all of it's (surely evil) life, much like when he almost had to do in the days of Noah. Then,... he started again. He put Adam and Eve, and all of his creations here in an immortal state.

Obviously we are going to find evidence of the Earths previous existence! That doesn't mean though, that everything since Adam came from Kolob, isn't exactly as has the prophets have said.

So, there HAD been death on this world, but not after God started again with Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve, all the plants and animals, etc. were placed on this Earth in an immortal state, but it was after all of the previous,terrestrial phase (wicked) life had been destroyed!

So you see... revealed truth never does conflict with true science! Nowhere in the scriptures, does it say that Earth itself came from Kolob.

God would not waste an Earth, just because he destroyed all the life on it. That would not fulfill the measure of it's creation.

Now I know that some will say that the Earth itself came from Kolob when Adam fell because some prophets (speaking as men) said so. This cannot be however, because modern cosmology proves that this earth was created from the same material, and, at the same time as the rest of the Solar System. This very, very strongly supports the idea that it was only Adam and Eve that were taken from Kolob, and put here.

Anyway, why would God move a whole planet clear across the Universe? He has plenty of perfectly useable planets that are no where near Kolob, upon which to place fallen humans.

God gave me a very warm burning in my bosom as he placed this idea in my mind. That is how I KNOW that it is true. Just like I know that the BOM is a true and accurate historical record. (That and it makes perfect sense)

Hopefully you will share this with those you council who are having trouble seeing how the gospel can possibly be true. I have found that there is always an answer if you study, ponder, and have a true desire to keep on believing.

Molly Smith said...

I was always told that the dinosaur fossils were a part of the "pre-existing matter" that was used when this earth was created and the the dinosaurs never lived on this planet. Thanks for setting the record straight.

Anonymous said...

Brynn Johnson's fascinating comment has made me realize something: the present-day SUV is part of the restoration of all things! Just as Adam and Eve had the option of riding to church on a dinosaur, in these latter days we can ride in a dinosaur-sized vehicle, fueled by those very dinosaurs in perfected petroleum form!

If the prophet Joseph were alive today, perhaps he would be moved to reveal, as he did for the mortal remains of Zelph, that the fuel in Brynn Johnson's SUV tank at this very moment contains remnants of an elect white dinosaur personally ridden by a prophet of old, yea, even one such as Enoch or Mahalaleel.

J.R.Fortescue-Holmes. said...

I have to make a confession to you President. I don't quite know how to tell you this. My grandson is very interested in dinosaurs, (I think his class had recently worked on a dinosaur project at school)and I took him to the Natural History Museum in London, where they depict dinosaurs as though they really existed, and were living creatures on the earth. I now understand the error. That museum is clearly doing the devil's service, especially since they also have presentations of Darwin's work and make it appear that the theory of evolution has merit. And their ideas and presentations are endorsed by some of the world's leading scholars. And they perpetuate that myth to millions of tourists to London. What infamy!

Anonymous said...

This site is a fraud. He is illegally using a picture of Ed Madden as his own.

Anonymous said...

Carbon dating is not perfect but get real it is valid. A possible explanation for fossils (which I am an avid collector of) were probably in the "materials" used to "form" the Earth in the beginning. These fossils did live and die but not on this "Earth" before Adam! Christ was not stupid he knew fossil fuels were needed in any earth formed to support humans! If this theory is obviously wrong pleas let me know.

Anonymous said...

What a sad article. It use to be that religions just straight up said, "No! You are wrong because it isn't in scripture!" Now they find themselves in a situation where actual evidence for theories can be tested and seen (by anyone who wishes to) outweighs the probability of a god even existing. The religious have to twist their own doctrines around to support their views. Why not just accept what you believe as personal truth and stop misleading people who want to find their own truth. You think you're educating but you're biased from the get-go. Just like Mormons claiming they are Christians...Smith had to plagiarize and twist bible scriptures to support his Book of Mormon to make it seem legit.

Anonymous said...

Wait....didn't Satan sneakily get the dinosaur fossils from Mars and hide them in the earth when it was being created in order to lead away the hearts of the children of men?

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